How to Recover Deleted Files from Dropbox (Step-by-Step Guide)

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Recover Deleted Data From The Dropbox

We’ve all experienced that stomach-dropping moment when we realize we’ve accidentally deleted an important file. When your data is stored in Dropbox, you have a safety net – with the right steps, you can recover deleted files!

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to rescue your files from Dropbox, including:

  • How Dropbox works and why files get deleted
  • The built-in features for recovering deleted data
  • Step-by-step instructions for restoring files
  • Tips to prevent deletion mishaps
  • FAQs on recovering deleted Dropbox files

By the end, you’ll have the confidence to restore your lost Dropbox data and keep it safely backed up. Let’s dig in!

How Does Dropbox Work?

Before we dive into file recovery, it helps to understand what Dropbox is and how it works.

What is Dropbox?

Dropbox is a popular cloud storage service used by over 700 million people worldwide. It gives you a central, online location to store, access, and share files from anywhere.

With Dropbox, you can:

  • Store all your photos, documents, videos and more in one secure place
  • Access your files from any device – desktop, laptop, tablet, phone
  • Easily share files and folders with others
  • Enjoy powerful collaboration features when working on team projects
  • Recover deleted files for up to 30 days (or up to 180 days with Dropbox Business)

Your files are kept safe through secure encryption and regular backups. And with the desktop app, files on your computer sync automatically with your Dropbox cloud storage.

How Does Syncing Work?

A key advantage of Dropbox is syncing – this automatically updates files across your linked devices.

Here’s how it works:

  • Dropbox folder: This special folder on your computer uploads files to the cloud.
  • Cloud storage: Stores your files on Dropbox’s secure servers.
  • Syncing: Automatically updates files between devices. An internet connection is required.
  • Version history: Stores previous versions of files for up to 30 days.

So when you save, delete or edit a file in your Dropbox folder on one device, those changes sync across all connected devices and the cloud. This allows easy access to up-to-date files on any computer, phone or tablet connected to your account.

Why Do Files Get Deleted from Dropbox?

Before we look at how to recover deleted files from Dropbox, let’s look at some common reasons why you might lose data:

Accidental Deletion

It’s easy to accidentally delete files by:

  • Clicking delete instead of save
  • Dragging files to the trash by mistake
  • Using shortcuts like Shift+Delete to permanently erase items

When you’re distracted or in a hurry, it’s not hard to delete something important without realizing.

Syncing Issues

If syncing fails due to a weak internet connection, files may be deleted from some devices but not others. When the connection returns, Dropbox could delete the missing files.

File Corruption

Hardware failure, power outages, software bugs, or malware infections can corrupt files stored in Dropbox. The system may delete corrupted files during syncing.

Unauthorized Access

If someone maliciously gains entry to your account, they could delete files intentionally or by accident.

Integration with Other Apps

Other apps with access to your Dropbox could delete files when you uninstall the app or change linked accounts.

Exceeding Storage Limits

On free Dropbox plans with limited storage, the system will delete your oldest files first if you exceed the capacity. Paying for more storage prevents this.

So in summary – accidents happen, but there are also technical reasons files can go missing from Dropbox without you deliberately deleting them.

How Does Dropbox Handle Deleted Files?

When you delete a file in Dropbox, it’s not immediately erased from their servers. This gives you a window of opportunity to recover deleted data.

Here’s what happens behind the scenes:

  • When deleted, files are moved to the Dropbox trash folder
  • Deleted files stay in the trash for 30 days
  • After 30 days, they are permanently deleted from Dropbox
  • Dropbox Business plans extend this to 180 days

So after accidental deletion, you have 1 month (or 6 months for business users) to restore your files through Dropbox before they are gone forever.

Let’s look at how to take advantage of this process to recover deleted files…

How to Restore Deleted Files in Dropbox

The good news is that Dropbox offers multiple ways to restore deleted files. Let’s go through each option.

Method 1: Dropbox Website

Recovering deleted files through the Dropbox website is quick and easy:

  1. Go to and log into your account
  2. Click your profile icon > Settings
  3. Click Show deleted files
  4. Deleted files and folders will now be visible
  5. Tick the box beside items to restore
  6. Click Restore to retrieve deleted data!
Show deleted files on Dropbox
undelete files

Files will be returned to their original folder locations in Dropbox.

Method 2: Dropbox Desktop App

You can also restore deleted files using the Dropbox desktop app:

  1. Launch the Dropbox app and log in
  2. Click the Show Deleted files option
  3. Right click a deleted item and choose Undelete to restore it

This brings the file back to its original folder in your Dropbox.

Method 3: Mobile App

If you need to recover deleted files from your phone, here are the steps for the Dropbox mobile app:

  1. Open the Dropbox app and log in
  2. Tap Files at the bottom
  3. Choose Deleted files from the menu
  4. Tap a file to preview it
  5. Select Restore to retrieve it

The file will revert back to its original folder location in your Dropbox.

So in summary – the process is very similar across the Dropbox website, desktop and mobile apps. Take advantage of whichever interface you find most convenient.

Extended Version History (Pro and Business)

One limitation of Dropbox’s free plans is that deleted files are only recoverable for 30 days. But with Dropbox Professional or Dropbox Business, you get:

  • 180 day extended version history
  • Ability to restore older versions of files
  • More protection against data loss

With extended version history, you can recover files deleted up to 180 days ago, giving you 6 full months to retrieve accidentally deleted data.

You also get access to a file’s entire version history, letting you roll back unwanted changes or compare old versions side-by-side. Think of it like a safety deposit box for your data.

So if you find yourself needing to restore older files often, an upgraded Dropbox plan provides more protection for your data and peace of mind.

Also read: Ways to transfer files from Google Drive to Dropbox.

Prevent Files Getting Deleted in the First Place

While Dropbox provides a handy safety net for recovering files, prevention is always better than cure.

Here are tips to avoid deleted files disasters:

Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

This adds an extra layer of security requiring you to enter a randomly generated access code during login along with your password. 2FA prevents unauthorized access that could lead to data loss.

Be Cautious When Sharing Files

Only share files and folders with people you trust. Be mindful of who has editing access rather than view-only rights.

Frequently Back Up Your Files

As well as Dropbox, maintain regular backups of your important files on an external hard drive and other cloud storage services. Added redundancy means you have multiple copies if files get deleted.

Handle File Corruption Proactively

Use Dropbox’s file recovery tools at the first sign of corruption. Also scan devices regularly for malware and hardware issues to prevent damaged files.

Add More Storage

Upgrade to a paid Dropbox plan with expanded storage if you’re getting notifications about reaching capacity limits. More space means fewer files will be automatically deleted.

By the way, here is everything about Windows File Recovery for your reference.

FAQs About Recovering Deleted Dropbox Files

Let’s wrap up with answers to some frequently asked questions about restoring deleted data from Dropbox:

Can I recover permanently deleted Dropbox files?

Unfortunately, Dropbox does not allow you to recover files deleted more than 30 days ago (180 days on Business plans). So if you notice files are missing, restore them from the trash as soon as possible.

What if I delete files from a shared folder?

Files deleted from shared folders follow the same recovery process – look in your trash folder within 30 days to restore. But keep in mind anyone else with access can also permanently delete shared files.

Can I recover old versions of files after deleting newer versions?

On free Dropbox plans, once you delete a file the previous versions are also deleted after 30 days. But with Extended Version History (Pro and Business), you can restore older copies within 180 days even if you delete the latest version.

What happens if my Dropbox subscription expires?

Your deleted files will remain recoverable in Dropbox for the full duration originally offered by your plan. So if you had 180 day extended history with Business and downgrade to Plus, you’ll still have 180 days to restore deleted files.

How do I recover a huge number of accidentally deleted files quickly?

Rather than restoring files individually, you can undelete entire folders to recover many files at once. Just navigate to the folder in the trash, tick the checkbox, and click Restore.

Also, get to know what to do if your Dropbox is not syncing.

Key Takeaways

Here are the core lessons for recovering deleted Dropbox files:

  • Deleted files stay in your Dropbox trash for 30 days (180 days on Business plans) before being permanently erased.
  • You can restore deleted data using the Dropbox website, desktop app and mobile apps. Just check the trash folder.
  • Enable 2FA, limit sharing, add redundancy, and upgrade your plan to protect files from getting deleted in the first place.
  • With Business or Professional plans, extend version history to 180 days to recover more deleted and earlier versions of files.

So don’t panic if you accidentally delete an important file from Dropbox – just use the steps in this guide to swiftly recover your lost data!

Does this help explain how to properly restore deleted files from your Dropbox account? Let me know if you need any clarification or have additional questions!


Skilled software testing specialist with expertise in comparisons and research, passionate about blogging, reviews, and creating video tutorials.

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